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#18 De Borja v. Vda. De Borja G.R. No.

L-28040, August 18, 1972


Facts: Upon the death of his wife, Josefa Tangco, Francisco de Borja filed a petition for probate of her will. He was appointed executor and administrator; their son, Jose de Borja, was appointed coadministrator. His son Jose became the sole administrator when he died. While a widower Francisco de Borja his second wife, Tasiana Ongsingco. Upon Francisco's death, Tasiana instituted testate proceedings in the CFI of Nueva Ecija, wherein she was appointed special administratrix. The relationship between the children of the first marriage and Tasiana Ongsingco has been plagued with several court suits and counter-suits. Jose and Tasiana entered into a compromise agreement. When submitted to the court for approval the Rizal court approved the compromise agreement, but the Nueva Ecija court declared it void and unenforceable. Tasiana appealed the order of approval contending that the compromise agreement is not valid: (1) the heirs cannot enter into such kind of agreement without first probating the will of Francisco de Borja; (2) that the same involves a compromise on the validity of the marriage between Francisco de Borja and Tasiana Ongsingco; and (3) that even if it were valid, it has ceased to have force and effect. Tasiana Ongsingco and the Probate Court of Nueva Ecija rely on this Court's decision in Guevara vs. Guevara, wherein the Court held that the presentation of a will for probate is mandatory and that the settlement and distribution of an estate on the basis of intestacy when the decedent left a will, is against the law and public policy. On the other hand, in claiming the validity of the compromise agreement, Jose de Borja stresses that at the time it was entered into, the governing provision was Section 1, Rule 74 of the original Rules of Court of 1940, which allowed the extrajudicial settlement of the estate of a deceased person regardless of whether he left a will or not. ISSUE: Whether the compromise agreement is valid, even if the will of Francisco has not yet been probated. HELD: Yes. Decision appealed from is affirmed. RATIO: The agreement stipulated that Tasiana will receive P800,000 as full payment for her hereditary share in the estate of Francisco and Josefa. This provision evidences beyond doubt that the ruling in the Guevara case is not applicable to the cases at bar. There was here no attempt to settle or distribute the estate of Francisco de Borja among the heirs thereto before the probate of his will. The clear object of the contract was merely the conveyance by Tasiana Ongsingco of any and all her individual share and interest, actual or eventual, in the estate of Francisco de Borja and Josefa Tangco. There is no stipulation as to any other claimant, creditor or legatee. And as a hereditary share in a decedent's estate is transmitted or vested immediately from the moment of the death of such causante or predecessor in interest (Civil Code of the Philippines, Art. 777) there is no legal bar to a successor (with requisite contracting capacity) disposing of her or his hereditary share immediately after such death, even if the actual extent of such share is not determined until the subsequent liquidation of the estate. Also, as the surviving spouse of Francisco de Borja, Tasiana Ongsingco was his compulsory heir. Therefore determining the validity of the agreement is unnecessary since her successional interest existed independent of Francisco de Borja's last will and testament and would exist even if such will were not probated at all. Thus, the prerequisite of a previous probate of the will, as established in the Guevara and analogous cases, can not apply to the case.